[extropy-chat] Angel Snot was Near Death Experiences: a scientific approach

Tom's name Here the_spoon_maker at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 25 08:23:28 UTC 2004

>Is the line between "consciousness and unconsciousness" really "clear"?
>How do you know that? Do you mean cessation of electrical activity in
>the brain?

I meant that it is fairly obvious to be awake (people pay attention to 
stimulation) versus asleep (stimulation may enter echoic memory but not 
short term memory).
Also, there is some mechanism that prevents muscular movement commands from 
leaving the brain, thus preventing us from acting out our dreams. 
(Sleepwalking results from its malfunction) One could argue that when this 
mechanism is engaged, the person is asleep. However, it may only be engaged 
when a person dreams. If that is the case, forget I mentioned it.

So there is a difference between asleep and awake. Waking and falling asleep 
are both processes (the former being a very quick one). I erred in saying 
the line between awake and asleep is clear. The *difference* between the two 
states is clear. The line, I would say, is when the anti-sleepwalking 
mechanism kicks in, or when stimuli stop entering the attention. However I 
have a nagging feeling even this two "lines" too are gradient processes with 
no clear “on” or “off” states.

If it is biological, if probably doesn’t happen all at once.

><...> or [the soul] could leave slowly, pulling out. If the latter, then 
>that death does not >come immediately would not be evidence against there 
>being a soul.

If the soul leaves the body, it has to be going someplace. I don’t think the 
soul is divisible (its not physical) so it would fade in/out in its 
entirety. If it were fading around in its entirety that would mean it would 
exist (to some extent) in both destinations at once. That would mean that 
people that have started to die have part of their soul in the spirit world 
(or whatever afterlife we're talking about) while they’re still alive. The 
key here would be to define "started to die". Drowning in water starts you 
dying, but many people are revived and don’t talk of feeling like part of 
their soul is missing, or “lesser” by some extent. Also it seems like 
existing on both planes at once would violate some cosmic law. Which planar 
soul would have the consciousness? If the consciousness were bound to the 
physical-world soul, what would be controlling the afterlife soul?

>Now [the soul] could leave very quickly, perhaps even instantaneously […] 
>it could >always be that the soul leaves the body after it reaches a point 
>of not return

This is a much more cosmos-friendly assumption. The point at which a person 
cannot return to life could take many places. Of course, in order for one to 
be unable to return to life, they must be dead. Thus we revert back to the 
“death is not a specific, end-all be-all state”.

Some could argue that the soul leaves at the instant nothing can be done 
from preventing death. Were this the case, souls would leave before the 
person died, presenting us with bodies without minds. A coma patient would 
be an example, but it would also mean people would be alive and moving 
around when their souls left, and would continue to move around. Zombies, 

Chance exists: I’ve heard before about a man who wanted to commit suicide. 
Whether its true or not is irrelevant. He swallowed a cyanide capsule, put a 
gun to his mouth and hung himself over a cliff above the ocean. At this 
point, his soul would certainly leave,  seeing as he swallowed the pill. The 
story goes he pulled the trigger and activated whatever device he used to 
hang himself. The bullet goes through his head and cuts the rope and he 
plunges down into the cold sea, which causes him to regurgitate the pill, 
and he lives. If he is alive, he needs his soul, so it couldn’t have left. 
If the soul stayed because it knew the person would live after all, it 
indicates the soul can predict the result of chance, which is impossible.

Chance does not exist (Scientific determinism): This is unwieldy since 
sci.det. would say the soul would leave as soon as it entered the body, 
because no matter what happens, the person will die when they die; nothing 
can prevent it. Of course, I don’t know of any scientific determinists that 
believe in the soul J.

>I mean one could imagine the soul sticks around until every last cell is 
Don’t some cells remain alive long after clinical death? Hair and 
fingernails come to mind, although I’ve heard their growing is only an 
illusion of dehydration. I don’t know which to believe, they both sound 

Would all cells in the body include other life? For example, bacteria that 
help us digest food. I’m sure there are some we cannot live without, thus 
they are part of our life, but they are their own organisms, and thus 
separate from our body. I doubt our soul would hang around on account of a 

If the soul leaves when all cells of the body are dead this would indicate 
the soul is tied, in some aspect, to all cells in the body. So what about 
babies and birth? An egg and a sperm are both body cells, so how would a 
zygote forming affect that? Also, one could argue that since a woman’s egg 
is still alive (albeit in the form of another human) that would contort the 

>Now, matching this up to MacDougall's findings is another story. I
>would first question his findings.

Especially the nonuniformity of the weights measured. I mean, more evident 
than what we’re discussing is the fact that different people lost different 
amounts of weight. Since he ignored the obvious physical connection between 
weight and mass and elected instead to attribute it to spiritual elements, I 
question his impartiality.

I highly doubt different moralities and ethics produce different weights.

>Also, I would want to know what other evidence is there for a soul.

Personally I don’t believe in them. I just figured arguing this would be a 
good way to worm my way into the group.

>One could also test this by sealing a dying person in a chamber <…> the 
>soul needs to escape too, but we could just take an inventory of all the 
>matter in the chamber before and after death, and after opening it, when, 
>presumably, the soul would escape.

Good point, if it has mass, it should be subject to the laws of physics. If 
it is truly spiritual it would simply disappear from inside the box; it 
would not have to wait to get out. I mean, where is it going to go outside 
the box that it can’t inside? Up into the sky to sit on a cloud? Of course 
any transdimentional travel of 21 grams would surly give off detectable 
signals of some sort. Hell, the change in gravity fields alone would tell us 
more than a boatload of theologians could.

Does anyone remember those shoebox things the Ghostbusters trapped ghosts 
I’m also reminded of a. . .I think a Chinese parable where a person angers a 
witch and the witch traps the person inside a tiny box, along with other 
people suffering the same fate.

>My bet is MacDougall would be proven wrong, but that's only a guess.

I agree wholeheartedly.

- Tom Andrys

(I have a feeling Im about to screw up the posting location of this, but I 
can't really figure out what the subject line would look like for a reply to 
a reply to a reply. Should it have been
re: re: re:[extropy-chat] Angel Snot was Near Death Experiences: a 
scientific approach? I don't want to fsk up and clutter the forum with a 
new, totally unnecessary thread. Also hotmail woulden't let me type out the 
proper subject line)

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